The Bed-and-Breakfast Man Series

Chapter 1 

The Foundling

Daria's first semester at Raft was a combination of exhilaration at her new independence and an acute homesickness for her friends and family.  She was more pleased than she cared to admit when her friend Jane Lane started at Boston Fine Arts College in the winter term.  While Daria had managed to carve out a new life for herself in Boston, she enjoyed hooking up with Jane on the weekends.  Trent occasionally came up to visit his sister and about a month previously, he had landed a gig, with a Mystik Spiral at a brewpub near MIT.  Apparently the boys were working for a few dollars and the apartment over the bar. 

Daria thought about her plans for the upcoming weekend.  There was a new movie at the art cinema, a gigantic cappuccino and pizza, a regular weekend.  If they were ambitious, they might roll into the pub and watch the band perform, or they might just rent a video.  The great thing about Boston was that there was a wealth of things to not do on the weekend. 

The cushiony chair in the library was lulling Daria into a stupor.  It was her customary location.  She found that the combination of the quiet of the periodical room and the luxurious comfort of the chairs were conducive to her studies.  She dipped into a book that had been recommended by her comparative lit professor, but kept getting side-tracked by an aroma.  It was a combination of cloves, hemp and sandalwood.  It was familiar, but she couldn't place it.  She tried to ignore it, but it kept wafting over. 

Daria took her book and tried to look nonchalant as she tried to track down the source of the smell.  It only took a minute before she stumbled across Trent, snoring peacefully under a TESOL Quarterly from 2001. 

"Trent?"  Daria asked in the hushed tones of a habitual library patron.

"Hnuh?"  Trent stirred under the magazine as he oriented himself.  "Daria?"

"Yeah.  What are you doing here?"  Daria sat in the chair next to him.  She knew from experience that it didn't pay to rush him right after he woke up.

"Jane said you'd be here."  He seemed to think this was enough explanation.

"Here in Boston?  Here at Raft?  Here in the library?  Here on the first floor?  Here in the periodical section?"  Daria was amazed that they managed to connect.

"Here."  Trent explained.  "And you are."  He smiled at her.

"It's a small world after all.  Ok, so you came here to see me. That's nice."  Daria waited for the rest of the explanation.

Trent had propped his feet up on a large duffle bag.  Daria hadn't noticed it until the movement attracted her attention.  A bit beyond was his guitar. "Yeah.  Actually, I've got a favor to ask."

"Look Trent, I'm really broke..." Daria began.

"No, this favor won't cost you anything.  I need a place to crash for a few nights."  He looked at her expectantly.

Daria thought for a second.  "Why me?  Why not a family member?  Where's Jane?"

"Well, that's the problem.  I was staying with her..." He trailed off into his familiar ellipsis. 

"And?"  Daria was used to drawing out his sentences, but she was beginning to lose patience.

"Something about eating her art materials.  A project.  Failing.  I'm not really sure."  Trent had the confused look of a Labrador Retriever trying to understand quantum physics.

"I get it.  You pissed her off and she threw you out."  Daria nutshelled it for him.

"I guess so."  Trent shook his head sadly, pitying his sister.

"So where are the other guys?  What happened to that apartment you had over the bar?" 

"The guys are all staying with friends or girlfriends.  They're fumigating the apartment.  Termites or locusts or something.  Can you help me out?"  Trent tried that look he had.  He knew that it had worked in the past on other women.  He hoped that it would work with Daria.

She sighed.  The one good thing about dorm life was that she had a room to herself.  Technically she had a roommate, but Courtney stayed with her boyfriend off campus.  In exchange all Daria had to do was say that Courtney was out or in the shower when her parents called.  Daria liked privacy and she wasn't thrilled with the idea of sharing her space with Trent.  But he did look pathetic. 

"Alright, but you can't bother me when I'm studying.  Or sleeping.  Or writing.  In fact, don't bother me.  It is temporary, right?"  Daria asked pointedly.  She had found in the past that failing to define the parameters of the arrangement was a disaster when dealing with Trent.

"Ok.  I won't bother you.  Thanks Daria."  Trent got up and grabbed his bag.  Daria noticed that it looked rather large. She also noticed that he forgot to assure her that he would be moving back to his apartment in the near future.

Daria let Trent into the room.  It was small, as most dorm rooms are.  There was a sitting area, with desks, a sofa and a television.  The bedroom featured two twin beds, positioned against opposite walls, with dressers between.  Although there were two distinct living spaces, it was still incredibly cramped.  Daria pointed to the bed on the left side of the room.  "That's where you sleep.  If you snore, then you're in the other room on the sofa. 

Trent put his bag at the foot of the bed.  "So you wanna get a pizza or something?" 

Daria shrugged. "You buying?"

Trent shook his head.  "Nope, broke till payday." 

"Okay, so I guess you're saying that you're hungry.  Tell you what.  I'll go down to dinner and I'll smuggle you something back.  Fair enough?"  Daria took off her coat and hung it up in the closet.  There was a knock at the door.

"Hey Daria, you going to dinner?"  It was Gayle from across the hall.  Gayle had come up from Tennessee.  She had a thick southern accent. 

"Yeah, I've just got to get my house guest settled.  Trent, this is my friend Gayle, Gayle this is Trent.  Jane's brother."  The two women exchanged looks. 

"Oh hey Trent.  I've heard a lot about you."  Gayle gave him a wave. 

"Nice to meet you." Trent said politely.  In the back of his mind he wondered how he came up in conversation with Daria's friend. 

"We'll be back in a bit.  Don't smoke in here, the RA will have my ass.  She's right next door.  I'll bring you whatever they have for dinner that doesn't leak."  Daria left as Trent looked around the rooms.

The sofa was a seventies shade of rusty orange.  It was hard as a rock, except in the places where asses of the past had worn grooves into the cushions.  The television was small and probably not watched all that often.  One desk was decorated with photos of people Trent had never seen before in his life.  He assumed that they were the roommate's.  Daria's desk was loaded with her laptop, her textbooks, assorted notebooks and some anatomical detritus that Trent didn't want to know about.  He decided to resume his nap until Daria returned with dinner.

Trent munched one of the burgers that Daria had smuggled up to the room.  The dining room was all you can eat, as long as you ate it there.  "So Summer and her kids moved back into your house?" 

"Yeah, those kids of hers are a pain in the ass.  They yell and run around.  My Mom just stays in the basement muttering about butterflies.  I decided that maybe it was a sign to get out on my own, see if we can actually do something with the band."

"And when you say move out on your own, you actually mean moving out with the band."  Daria tried to keep him honest.

"Well yeah.  We're on our own."  Trent bit into the second burger. 

"So what exactly is the deal with this apartment?  Do you pay rent?"  Daria was checking her e-mail and chatting with Trent simultaneously.

"We play five nights a week, and we clean up every night after closing.  We each get one hundred dollars a week and the apartment."  He seemed rather proud of himself.

"It's about the only way you'd be able to afford living in Boston.  Is the place nice?" She tapped away at the keyboard.

"It's being fumigated.  How nice could it be?"  He finished off the burger and started in on an apple turnover.  Daria had taken her bulky sweater to dinner.

"Good point." 

At first Daria wondered when Trent was going to move back. He managed to go to work, sleep in the dorm for two weeks before it occurred to Daria that perhaps there was something more to his company than his apartment being fumigated.  They had worked out a routine.  Daria was up and out early in the morning.  She returned to the room just as Trent began waking up. They'd chat for awhile; then he'd take off for work at around nine at night, so she had the place to herself to study and sleep.  After the first couple of nights, Trent's arriving back to the room at six in the morning ceased to bother her. 

There was a note on the door when Daria returned to the room.  It was from Melissa, the RA. Melissa was a busy girl in her own right and aside from floor meetings and crises; she stayed out of everyone's hair.  Daria figured that she was busted so she went next door to take her punishment.

"Oh hey, Daria.  Glad you could come."  Melissa let her in the room.  She had just showered and was drying her incredibly long hair.  She bent over and swung her tresses back and forth.

"Aren't you going to get a head-rush doing that?"  Daria asked.

"Oh no!  It makes my hair full and shiny.  I'll finish it off with a blow dryer before I go out." 

"You going out with your boyfriend?"  Daria asked politely.

Melissa laughed.  "Boyfriend?  I don't have a boyfriend. Except of course for Him."  She pointed at an etching of Jesus.  "He's the only man I need right now."  She glanced adoringly at the picture.

"Ah ha."  Daria replied.  "I got this note..."

"Right, speaking of boyfriends, what's up with the guy in your room?"  The RA got right to the point, it was one of the things that Daria liked most about her.

"Oh, he's not my boyfriend.  He's just a friend.  His place is being fumigated and he needed someplace to stay."  Daria explained.

"Well, he's been here for a while.  It's not really a problem, but he sometimes gets locked out of the room. He sits out in the TV lounge for hours at a time, some of the other residents mentioned it to me.   I got one of the spare keys, but I didn't want to give it to him without clearing it with you first.  I already checked with Courtney, she said it was okay with her." Melissa held out the key for her.

"Gee, thanks." Daria took the key, but she wasn't sure how she felt about giving it to Trent.  After all, this was supposed to be a temporary arrangement.  Giving him a key would make it official. 

"He really isn't your boyfriend is he?"  Melissa seemed slightly shocked.  "I just assumed that you and Courtney had an understanding.  She's never here, and that guy is always here, I just assumed..."

"I can understand why you'd think that.  Really, he's my best friend's brother.  He got kicked out of his place and now he's here with me.  The weird thing is that I enjoy his company.  He's got a night job, so he doesn't bug me.  He sleeps during the day.  It's sort of like my brother visiting.  Besides he really is supposed to be back at his place any day now."  Daria seemed confused about the situation.

Melissa handed her the key. "I think that you enjoy his company.  Why not give him the key.  When it's time for him to go, he'll go.  Maybe he misses his family too." 

"Thanks."  Daria took the key, but she wasn't exactly sure if she was going to give it to Trent.  That seemed too much like a commitment.  But a commitment to what?